Kinetic temperature of massive star-forming molecular clumps measured with formaldehyde⋆
II. The Large Magellanic Cloud
1 Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
2 Xinjiang Astronomical Observatory, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 830011 Urumqi, PR China
3 Key Laboratory of Radio Astronomy, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 830011 Urumqi, PR China
4 Astronomy Department, King Abdulaziz University, PO Box 80203, 21589 Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
5 National Radio Astronomy Observatory, 520 Edgemont Rd, Charlottesville, VA 22903, USA
6 University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22903, USA
7 Department of Astronomy, Nanjing University, 210093 Nanjing, PR China
Received: 2 December 2016
Accepted: 5 January 2017
Context. The kinetic temperature of molecular clouds is a fundamental physical parameter affecting star formation and the initial mass function. The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is the closest star-forming galaxy with a low metallicity and provides an ideal laboratory for studying star formation in such an environment.
Aims. The classical dense molecular gas thermometer NH3 is seldom available in a low-metallicity environment because of photoionization and a lack of nitrogen atoms. Our goal is to directly measure the gas kinetic temperature with formaldehyde toward six star-forming regions in the LMC.
Methods. Three rotational transitions (JKAKC = 303–202, 322–221, and 321–220) of para-H2CO near 218 GHz were observed with the Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment (APEX) 12 m telescope toward six star-forming regions in the LMC. These data are complemented by C18O 2–1 spectra.
Results. Using non-local thermal equilibrium modeling with RADEX, we derive the gas kinetic temperature and spatial density, using as constraints the measured para-H2CO 321–220/303–202 and para-H2CO 303–202/C18O 2–1 ratios. Excluding the quiescent cloud N159S, where only one para-H2CO line could be detected, the gas kinetic temperatures derived from the preferred para-H2CO 321–220/303–202 line ratios range from 35 to 63 K with an average of 47 ± 5 K (errors are unweighted standard deviations of the mean). Spatial densities of the gas derived from the para-H2CO 303–202/C18O 2–1 line ratios yield 0.4–2.9 × 105 cm-3 with an average of 1.5 ± 0.4 × 105 cm-3. Temperatures derived from the para-H2CO line ratio are similar to those obtained with the same method from Galactic star-forming regions and agree with results derived from CO in the dense regions (n(H2) > 103 cm-3) of the LMC. A comparison of kinetic temperatures derived from para-H2CO with those from the dust also shows good agreement. This suggests that the dust and para-H2CO are well mixed in the studied star-forming regions. A comparison of kinetic temperatures derived from para-H2CO 321–220/303–202 and NH3(2, 2)/(1, 1) shows a drastic difference, however. In the star-forming region N159W, the gas temperature derived from the NH3(2, 2)/(1, 1) line ratio is ~16 K (Ott et al. 2010, ApJ, 710, 105), which is only half the temperature derived from para-H2CO and the dust. Furthermore, ammonia shows a very low abundance in a 30′′ beam. Apparently, ammonia only survives in the most shielded pockets of dense gas that are not yet irradiated by UV photons, while formaldehyde, less affected by photodissociation, is more widespread and also samples regions that are more exposed to the radiation of young massive stars. A correlation between the gas kinetic temperatures derived from para-H2CO and infrared luminosity, represented by the 250 μm flux, suggests that the kinetic temperatures traced by para-H2CO are correlated with the ongoing massive star formation in the LMC.
Key words: stars: formation / Magellanic Clouds / ISM: clouds / ISM: molecules / radio lines: ISM
The reduced spectra (FITS files) are only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (126.96.36.199) or via http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/600/A16
© ESO, 2017